Council Consensus: Municipal Fire Department for Hamilton

The Hamilton Township Council took an unofficial, non-binding consensus of members at Tuesday’s meeting and came to the conclusion that the final effort of consolidating the fire service in Hamilton would be to have it run by the municipal government vs a separate independent fire district.

All five members publicly said they believe a municipal department is a model to pursue and created a seven-member committee charged to formulate particulars, like a budget and command structure, and draft an ordinance in the 3 to 4 months according to  Council President Anthony Carabelli Jr.

The former all-Republican Council voted in December of 2017 on a non-binding resolution in one of their last acts, before the current council members were sworn into office in the new year, leaving them with the ultimate say on the direction of consolidation.

Efforts to consolidate Hamilton’s nine autonomous, tax-levying fire districts (eight which are located fully in Hamilton) into one firefighting force started in the fall of 2015 with District 9 passing a resolution publicly supporting it.

It became a hot-button political issue with an effort of the FMBA to help elect the team of Carrabelli, Martin, and Tighue to the council in the 2017 November election.

At an August 2017 consolidation meeting, the FMBA issued a statement regarding the time the process was taking:

“While we heard the right words last night, we are more interested in seeing some action,” Shane Mull, president of the firefighters’ union, and Nick Buroczi, president of the fire officers, said in a joint statement.

The unions want the fire district model, and they say their work in the past few years to get the current point is to ensure the proper staffing and infrastructure.

Despite the efforts of the union, ultimately it looks that the township will inherit the fire services.

“We will continue to work with all parties involved to make the fire department second to none and provide Hamilton Township the best service in the State,” the unions, locals of the Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA), said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The committee that will proceed with the task of creating the municipal fire department will consist of two council members, Martin and Ralph Mastrangelo; Mayor Kelly Yaede, or her designee; the two union presidents, Nick Buroczi and Shane Mull; the president of the township volunteer firefighters, Scott Goldsmith; and a current fire chief, Rich Kraemer.

“The goal that we have is for the subcommittee to work on the framework of a budget and the command structure and have something we can present to the  Local Finance Board,” Carabelli said.